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Series / The Keepers

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The Keepers (Russian: Хранители / Khraniteli) is a 1991 Soviet two-part TV playnote  adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. It was directed by Natalya Serebryakova. Adapting only the first part of Tolkien's series, it follows the plot of the book fairly closely, albeit altered to fit a slightly abstract, No Budget presentation.

Produced by Leningrad Television in 1991, it aired only once in its intended format. It was believed to be lost for 30 years, only for it to be miraculously discovered in 2020 during an archive digitisation effort by Leningrad's successor channel, 5TV, who remastered and made both parts freely available on Youtube the following year.

Compare The Hobbits, a rather similar Finnish adaptation. No relation to the fantasy books by Ted Sanders.


  • Action Girl: Legolas, who has been given a Gender Flip and is portrayed by Olga Serebryakova (the daughter of director Natalya Serebryakova.)
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Saruman has been aged down significantly, at least appearing to be decades younger than Gandalf.
    • Gimli is also a pretty young guy with a neatly trimmed beard, who is more conventionally attractive than any of the hobbits.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: We get to see a brief insert of Strider riding to Bree before meeting the hobbits.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Maggot is no longer a farmer, but rather an innkeeper. (A strange change, as Butterburr still appears later on.)
  • Adaptational Species Change: Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are portrayed as literal giants here, much taller than any other beings appearing in the adaptation.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Several names are changed, as per the 1982 Russian translation of The Fellowship of the Ring (the first complete and published Russian translation, with the other volumes only translated and published in the 1990s).
    • Bilbo and Frodo Baggins have become Bilbo and Frodo Torbins. (Torba being a Russian and general Slavic word for a bag carried over the shoulder.)
    • Samwise "Sam" Gamgee is now Sam Skrombi.
    • Peregrin "Pippin" Took has been renamed Pin Krol.
    • Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck is now Merri Brendizayk.
    • Gollum is now Gorlum.
    • Goldberry is Zolotinka ("gold flake").
  • Adapted Out: Many examples. To wit:
    • Our heroes never set up camp at Weathertop, only encountering the Nazgul on the snowy fields near Rivendell.
    • Poor Glorfindel doesn't make it into this version either. Instead, Frodo's rescue is shown through vague glimpses, and we're never told who performed it.
    • Bilbo doesn't give Frodo his mithril shirt or the sword Sting.
    • There is no attempt to cross the Misty Mountains, making it seem like going through Moria was the plan all along here.
    • Moria itself is seemingly entered with no complicated, as the riddle of the door and the Watcher in the water have been cut. Balin's tomb also isn't visited.
    • Perhaps most notoriously, the Balrog never appears, implying that the orcs managed to take out Gandalf all of their own.
    • Celeborn never appears, making Galadriel the sole ruler of Lothlorien.
    • There is no confrontation with Saruman's Uruk Hai army. Instead, Boromir's attempted taking of the ring happens at Lothlorien, and he even manages to survive the events of the story.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Many of the characters have moments where they look straight into the camera while talking, even when the people they are supposedly conversing with aren't remotely in that direction.
  • The Casanova: Frodo — of all people — has traits of this. "His" song at The Prancing Pony is actually performed by a random patron here. Frodo joins in early on in the song and starts dancing with her, which baffles all the other guests.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Once the hobbits meet Strider at the Prancing Pony, the pacing picks up rapidly and turns the series into this.
  • Court Jester: A couple of them are shown attending the Council of Elrond.
  • Creepy Crosses: The graveyard in The Old Forest is filled with Christian-style crosses, despite Christianity not really existing in Middle-earth.
  • Dominance Through Furniture: A rare heroic, apparently voluntary example. Gimli ends up serving as the table while the rest of the Fellowship study the map.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Saruman, Gollum, Old Man Willow, the Barrow-wight, the orcs, Sauron... The Nazgul are mostly Silent Antagonists, but they also have their moments when they do speak.
  • Evil Laugh: Quite prominent in this adaptation:
    • Saruman has a downright diabolical laugh.
    • Sauron also has one.
    • The Barrow-wight has two simultaneous evil laughs, one masculine and one feminine.
    • Even the soundtrack incorporates vocals resembling rhytmic laughter.
  • Forced Sleep: The elves of Lothlorien lull our heroes to sleep by dancing around them in a circle and playing instruments.
  • Forced Transformation: Gorlum's transformation is depicted as happening immediately after putting on the ring. This was probably meant to be symbolic, but his surprised reaction might imply otherwise.
  • Got Volunteered: In this version, Gandalf gives Frodo and his hobbit friends the mission to take the ring not just to Rivendell, but to Mount Doom as well.
  • Killed Off for Real: As this adaptation doesn't cover the wizard's later resurrection, it seems like Gandalf well and truly dies after committing his Heroic Sacrifice here.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Seems to be how Galadriel's temptation is portrayed. It now involves her seeing a vision of herself, wearing a black dress and a golden crown. Her vision self cries in agony over the things she has done, and yet she clutches on to the ring, unable to part with it...
  • Narrator: The story is told to us by a bespectacled scholar, played by the series' composer Andrei Romanov. Though sometimes, the camera randomly cuts back to him just staring silently at the audience.
  • Otherworldly and Sexually Ambiguous: The Barrow-wight, who seems to have been played physically by a woman and then dubbed over by a man.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Gimli is made to look much shorter than the average person, but the residents of the Shire aren't, implying that in this universe, dwarves are shorter than hobbits.
  • Plot Hole: Gandalf is assumed to have been slayed by the orcs, but he still appears alive and well during the crossing of the bridge, making the scene very confusing to follow.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The series' soundtrack was composed by Andrei "Dyusha" Romanov, the keyboardist for the Russian rock band Aquarium. Romanov and his fellow bandmate Boris Grebenshchikov were huge fans of the source material, and had previously played a part in the publication of the updated Russian translation earlier that year.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over:
    • The steeds of the Black Riders are decked out in red.
    • Boromir wears a black outfit with a red cape, perhaps to hint toward his eventual Heel–Face Turn.
  • Truer to the Text: In some aspects, at least. This is one of the few screen adaptations to include Tom Bombadil and a Barrow-wight, and possibly the only one to include Goldberry.
  • Uncanny Valley Make Up: Worn by our hobbit protagonists, for some reason. The Barrow-wight is a more deliberate example.
  • The Voiceless: Much like in the Finnish The Hobbits TV series, Legolas never utters a single line.
  • Winter Warfare: Frodo and company now set out during the winter — even taking a sled to the Dark Forest — and all of their encounters with the Nazgul happen in the snow.
  • Wizard Beard: Gandalf has a musketeer-style beard. Averted with Saruman, who is clean-shaven here.